Jobs, taxes and regulations — if you’re not fired up already, good luck getting excited about next year’s elections.
That’s especially true in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and his famously surnamed challenger, Weston Wamp, are discussing jobs, taxes and regulations in language that is nearly identical.
According to their campaign websites, both Republicans oppose regulations on small businesses and support a “complete overhaul” of the nation’s tax code. Neither man offers specifics.
As for jobs, allow the candidates to explain.
Fleischmann: “We do not need more government intervention.”
Wamp: “Government is too big and cannot create jobs.”
With so much agreement, why challenge the incumbent?
“The information on my website is intended to give voters a basic understanding of where I fall on the political spectrum,” Wamp said Friday. “We’re both conservatives, we’re both Republicans, but the way we’ll go about finding solutions, in some ways, couldn’t be more different.”
Wamp said he would “be more prescriptive” about his differences as the campaign progresses, citing his support of a flat tax and bipartisanship as examples.
WHAT THEY SAY
• Fleischmann: “We can only hope that our politicians don’t make things worse by increasing taxes and regulations on small businesses.”
• Wamp: “The federal government has to get out of the way so that innovators and risk-takers can rebuild the American economy.”
• Fleischmann: “Our current tax code is simply too invasive.”
• Wamp: “Our current tax code is antiquated to the point that it has become a hindrance to American productivity.”
• Fleischmann: “I believe that the federal government should be prohibited from spending more money than it collects each year.”
• Wamp: “Weston believes this fight must start with ... the enactment of a balanced budget amendment.”
Source: Campaign websites
Through a spokesman, Fleischmann declined comment, a strategy he has embraced since the 24-year-old Wamp entered the race.
Still, Fleischmann has been raising big primary money and attempting to showcase alliances with Washington playmakers, including an upcoming $1,000-a-couple fundraiser in Chattanooga featuring House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
In a detailed campaign announcement interview with the Times Free Press, Wamp was more eager to separate himself from his father and Fleischmann’s immediate predecessor — eight-term U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp — than Fleischmann himself.
“I don’t look at it like I’m running against Rep. Fleischmann,” Weston Wamp said at the time. “I look at it like I’m running for Congress.”
Beyond general similarities, Fleischmann and Weston Wamp are pushing major changes to the tax code in remarkably similar terms.
“It should be completely overhauled so that American taxpayers can spend more of their own money instead of having the federal government spend it for them,” Fleischmann has said.
Wamp said he supports “a complete overhaul that would dramatically simplify and create fairness in the way the government collects revenue.”
The Republican primary is Aug. 2. Like Fleischmann and Wamp, political science professor Jean Howard-Hill, the other GOP primary candidate, says the government is too intrusive on small businesses.
No Democrat, independent or third-party candidate has entered the race.
Chris Carroll covers federal politics for the Times Free Press. A Chattanooga native, he went to Red Bank High School and graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University. Chris investigated violent crime, municipal government and hospitals before taking the political beat. For tornado coverage, he and Pam Sohn won a first-place Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors deadline reporting award. In 2010, Chris won the Golden Press Card Award of Merit and another deadline reporting ...